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The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 1/5

During my full-time university days on the GI Bill [1968 – 1973] before I graduated with a BA in journalism, I learned how easy it was for the media to make mistakes while practicing what is known as Yellow Journalism to boost profits.

And Yellow journalism [based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration] is what Associated Press [AP] did when it ran Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny by Don Thompson on December 14, 2011.

For example, how would you feel if you read, “Patrick Godwin spends his retirement days running a horse farm east of Sacramento, Calif., with his daughter? His departure from the workaday world [he worked thirty-six years in public education and was the superintendent of one of California’s 1,600 school districts] is likely to be long and relatively free of financial concerns, after he retired last July at age 59 with a pension paying $174,308 a year for the rest of his life.”

That previous quote was in the second paragraph of Thompson’s AP news piece and it is extremely misleading because of what it doesn’t say.

How many in public education do you think will earn that kind of money in retirement?

What AP doesn’t tell us is that in 2010 the average member-only benefit for retired public school educators in California was $4,256 a month before taxes [less than a third of what Godwin earns in retirement] and that only 16% of educators that retired in 2010 worked as long as Patrick Godwin did.  The median years of service was 26.6.

For example, if you were one of the educators that retired after 26.6 years of public service [the median] and was only 55 years old [the earliest you may retire and collect], using the CalSTRS retirement calculator, that person would earn about $2,130 a month before taxes—much less than the $14,525.66 that Godwin earns each month.

I calculated once that if a public school teacher in California taught for 42 years or more, his annual retirement income would equal what he earned the last year he worked.  In public education, less than 4% retire in the 100% category.

In fact, 9% retired in 2010 with 10-15 years of service in public education, 11% with 14-20 years, 15% with 20-25 years, 12% with 25-30 years, 23% with 30-35 years, and 16% with 35-40 years. Source: CalSTRS

The reason that AP’s Don Thompson ran with Patrick Godwin’s retirement income as his example is called sensationalism designed to cause an emotional response so people will talk about it. Word of mouth attracts readers and an audience.

In addition, Godwin was a school district superintendent at the top of the public education pay scale, which represents about 0.2% of the total.  That means 99.8% of public educators in California do not earn as much as Godwin did while working as a school district superintendent.

The result is that many readers may believe that most public educators in California will retire with Patrick Godwin’s annual retirement income.  However, this is far from the truth since most will not come close, but Thompson’s piece doesn’t say that.

The reason AP’s Thompson distorted the facts so much is because of audience share, which determines how much a media source [TV, newspaper, talk show, magazine, Blog, etc] may charge to advertisers, and balancing the news and telling the truth often does not achieve this goal because profits are the foundation of the private sector media.

It’s a simple formula: if you don’t make a profit you go out of business and everyone working for you loses his or her job so almost everyone plays the same Yellow Journalism game, and then there is the politics of money.

To understand why Thompson wrote such a misleading news piece, it helps to understand the trend away from private-sector pensions that were once similar to current public sector-pensions and the answers are in the numbers.

Continued on December 16, 2011 in The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Comparing Apples to Apples Instead of Cabbages

My goal for this post was to discover how America’s public schools compared to countries with similar educational systems.  The scores used are from the 2009 global PISA rankings.

I ended up comparing the scores of nine similar countries [Western Christian cultures] with the top three [China, Finland and Singapore] and the lowest score [Kyrgystan].  The first chart lists three of the top five, the second chart includes the United States and eight similar countries, and the last chart shows the country with the lowest global score on the 2009 international PISA test.

Three of the top-five public school systems in the world as tested by PISA.

These three public school systems are very different from the United States. I’ve written about these differences in The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S.

Country

Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

Shanghai-China 556 600 575
Finland 536 541 554
Singapore 526 562 542

Using Google and doing some research, I discovered “Nine Countries” [Western Christian cultures] that use annual standardized tests to measure student growth, which means these countries teach to the test and teachers are probably micromanaged by administration and pressured to raise test scores as is often the case in America.

The average score of Reading was 482.5 and the United States was 17.4 points higher.  Only one of the nine countries scored higher than the United States.

The average score of Mathematics was 486.7 and the United States was 0.3 points higher—three of the nine scored lower.

The average score of Science was 494.2 and the United States was 7.8 points higher. Only three of the nine scored higher.

Country

Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

United States

500

487

502

France 496 497 498
United Kingdom 494 492 514
Romania 424 427 428
Lithuania 468 477 491
Russian Federation 459 468 478
Netherlands 508 526 522
Germany 497 513 520
Sweden 497 494 495

The lowest-scoring public school system in the world as tested by PISA.

Country

Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

Kyrgystan 314 331 330

What can we learn from this?

We may learn that the political/religious critics of America’s public schools will manipulate the data to make the schools look bad and ignore the rest of the facts that say otherwise.  With this comparison, we see America from a different perspective comparing apples to apples instead of apples to cabbages.

Discover Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Revealing the Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 2/2

The second of the TOP 5 REASONS MANY TEACHERS QUIT  was “unreasonable, much-too-heavy workloads”. [Source: Patty Inglish at Hub Pages]

[Note: teachers are often required to contact parents daily since most parents of failing students do not contact teachers. This seldom results in any changes among failing students because the home environment and lifestyle is usually the reason students are failing.]

Number 3 was poor general working conditions.

[Note: I’ve written about working in poor conditions in several posts such as Bookies Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum, Teaching With Pain, Pollution and People, Sewer Teaching is a Smelly Art, and HEPA Filters Do Not Work Miracles]

Number 4 was “Too much responsibility for accountability scores on No Child Left Behind and other standardized testing and accountability initiatives was listed as another major reason to quit.

Last, Inglish wrote, “Teaching was no longer rewarding, emotionally or fiscally, since raises in pay were denied when students’ scores were not raised high enough. Some teachers were fired for this and others quit. All this created problems regarding unfair terminations with the teachers’ labor unions and growing bad blood between teachers and their unions with administrations.

Inglish says, “One -fifth, or 20%, of public school teachers that had no previous full-time teaching experience quit in the school year 2004-2005. Overall, 65% of former public school teachers report that they are better able to balance work and personal/family life since they quit teaching. Before quitting, nearly all their time was spent on such things as rewriting lesson plans, purchasing their own supplies, and working unpaid overtime hours without additional needed training.”

[Note: as I’ve said before, my work weeks ran between 60 to 100 hours for the same monthly salary I would have earned if all I did was teach the 25 to 30 hours a week I spent with students.]

Return to Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, click it and then follow directions.

 

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Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 1/2

I started out looking for a list of countries that use standardized tests as the United States does. Eventually, I found what I wanted and that post will appear another time.

At first, what I found wasn’t what I was looking for but what I learned painted a different picture than the criticism that is often heaped on the public schools by those political/religious groups that want to change the education system in the US to fit their beliefs or achieve their agendas.

Since World War II, America’s public schools have been victimized by so-called expert fanatics that seem to know what is right for the schools. Each time one of these waves has arrived (Whole Language Approach to Learning and the Self-esteem movement are two examples), it resulted in disaster for many public schools.

I’m sure private school choice linked to the voucher initiative will prove the same and will solve nothing.  School Choice and the Voucher initiative that refuses to go away are just another unproven theory that will not achieve the desired results.

From Patty Inglish at Hub Pages, I discovered the TOP 5 REASONS MANY TEACHERS QUIT.  What I did was summarize what Patty Inglish wrote. If you want more details, visit her post at Hub Pages by clicking on the link in this paragraph.

“Many teachers quit because teaching is difficult and, to compound this circumstance, many school and school district administrations practice micromanagement and a lack of support that drives teachers away,” Inglish wrote. “The U.S. Department of Education; National Center for Education Statistics Teacher Follow-up Survey shows these major self-reported reasons among 7,000 teachers and former teachers for why they quit or are likely to soon quit.”

The persons interviewed report “a constant battle with the administration”, including submitting weekly lesson plans for examination and approval…

[Note: I had to do this for one principal between 1986 and 1989. During that time, the school I was teaching at experienced a fifty-percent teacher turnover, and I also transferred to another school to escape this brute of a micromanager.]

Inglish says, “According to this recent report on teacher attrition by the National Center for Education Statistics, in teachers who quit and took non-education jobs, 64% did so to have more autonomy at work, without micromanagement.”

Continued on September 26, 2011 in Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, click it and then follow directions.

 

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Flawed Claims about “Different Kinds of Liberals”

Eric Schansberg lives in Indiana and wrote a post for his “personal” blog about different kinds of liberals.  There is one quote of Schansberg’s that I challenge.

Schansberg claimed that, “In education, teacher unions want to preserve the monopoly power of the government schools. Restricting competition is a common way to make one group better off at the expense of others,” is misleading.

Teacher unions and public school teachers do not run the school districts in the United States. Teachers are employees and they do as they are told. I should know. I worked in one public school district for thirty years.

Who runs the public schools in America?

Democratically elected school boards do that job.  In addition, policy for public schools is decided at the state level, which means the legislature of each state sets the standards and expectations for the school districts in each state.

There are over 14,000 public school districts in the U.S., and discerning parents may choose where to live, which means 14,000 choices and in some school districts, one school may be better than another.


Crazy Conservatives at the “Take Back America Conference”

Parents that do their homework before buying a home or renting may easily find one school or school district that is better than others and that is a form of choice, which is what my wife and I did.  All the information one needs to make such a decision may be easily found through Google.

We bought the home we live in now in a public school district that was highly rated.  Our daughter attended middle and high school in this Northern California public school district, where she earned straight A’s for six years and then was accepted to UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis and Stanford, where she is starting her second year.

When I asked her how many “bad” teachers she had while attending public schools in California K-12, she said only one name came to mind and she must have had at last fifty teachers during those 13 years.

Finland and Singapore, with two of the best school systems in the world, have government run schools.

In fact, in Finland, the best school system in Europe, 97% of students attend public government run schools and the teachers belong to strong teacher unions but teachers decide how to run their schools and parents offer strong support, which is often missing in the US.

Then Schansberg claims teacher unions restrict competition.  Wrong again.

There are 33,366 private schools in the United States, serving 5.5 million PK-12 students. Private schools account for over 25 percent of the nation’s schools and enroll about 10 percent of all students, which is a higher ratio than Finland or Singapore where only 3% of the students attend private schools.

Then there are homeschooled students, which add up to about 1.5 to 1.7 million students.

Parents, if they make an effort, have many choices where their children go to school. The real reason for the school choice movement in America has nothing to do with better schools. This movement is politically/religiously motivated. There is no other reason.

If these conservatives really wanted better schools, they would be studying the countries that already have them instead of reinventing a wheel that would turn out square.

Saying the public schools in the United States are a  monopoly would be the same as claiming the U.S. Post Office is a monopoly without mentioning FedEx, DHL, UPS and e-mail.

There may be two large teacher unions (NEA and AFT) but these unions are broken into 14,000 different branches and each branch negotiates separately with the democratically elected school boards of each of those 14,000 school districts for wages and benefits and the teacher unions do not dictate policy or curriculum—the democratically elected officials at the school district, state and federal level  do that after much debate and lobbying.

In the thirty years I taught, the union branch I paid my dues to, which was a member of CTA/NEA, never told us how or what to teach and never offered workshops in those areas.

Do you really want your children to attend schools run by the CEO of an International corporation such as Wal-Mart, which only answers to its investors?

Discover how to Avoid the Mainstream Parent Trap

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 5/7

A recent study by an expert in combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), studied teachers in a Texas public school district and discovered that one out of three teachers had PTSD.

If seniority is removed as the sole factor for deciding which teachers lose their jobs, then every teacher in America must be evaluated for PTSD (possibly every five years) and when a teacher is discovered to have PTSD (a job related disability), he or she should receive a disability and free counseling from the Veterans Administration, which is organized to deal with this mental disorder brought on by combat and/or repeated stress related experiences.

The question in the August 2011 Costco Connection was “Should Teacher layoffs be based on seniority?”

The results arrived in the September 2011 Costco Connection and the result reveals that more Americans have abandoned its teachers after special interests have turned them into scapegoats for the failure of students that do not study and parents that do not parent and a system that does not allow teachers to make the decisions as Finland does.

The result was 31% yes and 69% no.

I’m not surprised by the results. My wife and I saw the documentary “Waiting for Superman”, which is an indictment of the public schools and teachers in America and it was pure propaganda and extremely misleading. As usual, nowhere did it mention that students must be held responsible by parents to do homework and study when a teacher assigns work to be done at home.

“Waiting for Superman” claimed the US was once a pioneer in public education, which is a lie. Ben Wildavsky writing for the March/April 2011 Foreign Policy magazine blows that myth/lie apart, when he said “Even at the height of U.S. geopolitical dominance and economic strength, American students were never anywhere near the head of the class … the results from the first major international math test came out in 1967 … Japan took first place out of 12 countries, while the United States finished near the bottom.”

In addition, what “Waiting for Superman” doesn’t want you to discover is that in the 2009 PISA international test, America placed in the top 26% for Math, top 11% for Reading Literacy, and the top 20% for Science Literacy, which is a huge improvement from near the bottom in 1967.

In 1967, twelve countries were compared in Math, but in 2009, that number was 64 countries in three subjects.

What happens when a student doesn’t perform, which means he or she does not participate in class, doesn’t ask questions when he or she is confused about a lesson [correct me if I’m wrong, but teachers cannot read minds], avoids class work, avoids homework, avoids reading assignments, will not read independently, will not study and/or misbehaves in class?

Is that the teachers fault?

Continued on September 9, 2011 in Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 6 or return to Part 4

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 1/3

After years of U.S. teachers and their unions being blamed for the failure of some students to learn, it is time to face reality.

American teachers did not fail the system. The system failed the teachers, and the proof may be found in Finland and Singapore where teachers are trusted and  supported.

Smithsonian Magazine’s September 2011 issue reported an A+ for Finland where “kids aren’t required to go to school until they’re 7, standardized tests are rare and yet the Nordic nation’s success in education is off the charts.”

Yet, more than 97% of Finland’s children attend public schools and the teachers belong to a strong union. If you read the piece in Smithsonian (link provided above), the elements of that success, which are missing in the US, are spelled out in detail.

There is a reason that the U.S. public education system appears to be failing (at least according to its very vocal idealistic and fanatical critics).

For decades, the public schools in the US have been run by local, state and federal politics, which resulted in decisions made by mostly ignorant elected officials that turned the schools into laboratories for one ideological fad/theory or political agenda after another.

As an example, devout Christians demand that creationism be taught instead of evolution, while scientists argue that creationism is wrong. School prayer is also a hot button issue between atheists and religions as is sex education.

LynNell Hancock of Smithsonian Magazine says, “Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around.”

The key phrase in the last sentence is “its (Finland) teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes”, which is missing in America.

Continued August 29, 2011 in The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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